Made in China

For this project, I  pulled other peoples images off the web (this was in 2005, before there was so much talk of and litigation over copyright and intellectual property regarding images on the internet, so it was a really interesting and peculiar gray area for me). Most of the images were pictures of people holding their possessions. I sent the images to a painting shop in China (the kind of place that makes reproductions of old master paintings). Within a few weeks the completed paintings were shipped back to me.


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Over the holiday my sister and I were musing on the family newsletter, with its infinitely optimistic tone and enclosed Wal-Mart photo. “Success propaganda” she called it.

Painted portraits traditionally take a position similar to that of the holiday newsletter. The subject forms an image for the world to see, presenting it through prized possessions, prudent expressions, and beautiful backdrops. The artist composes, refines and perfects the image, instilling a sense of balance, immortality and something of the divine.

I am drawn to the casual photographic portrait, to snapshots that betray themselves and open holes in this “success propaganda”. The images for my paintings come from snapshots posted on the web. They are taken from personal homepages, organizational websites, and online photo albums. Together, the pictures create a delightfully awkward, flawed family of anonymous subjects.

I have the portraits painted in a factory in China. The process allows me to remain outside of the work. From this vantage point, I take vast pleasure in their otherness- like invented memories of lost friends, relatives and lovers– and of the divine.